The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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Malta to begin preserving endemic plant species through National Plant Gene Bank

Saturday, 18 May 2024, 09:49 Last update: about 28 days ago

The National Plant Gene Bank in Lija is to start preserving and safeguarding plant species in the Maltese islands by storing seeds of various Maltese vegetables and fruits, as well as indigenous and endemic plants.

Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo announced the over €3 million project, which falls under the Plant Protection Directorate, through national and European funds from the Rural Development Fund 2014-2020.

During the press conference, it was explained that the work of collecting and conserving seeds of local varieties and indigenous plants will now begin, along with the collection of herbariums for botanical and genetic studies, to document the botanical biodiversity of the country in the coming years.

The project will also include a botanical museum that will be available to the public so that they can appreciate the work being done at the Gene Bank and watch the biodiversity of the country through a scientific lens.

“The establishment of this Gene Bank is important as the country is endowed with unique plants and vegetables that have invaluable characteristics. These can help us combat the challenges brought by climate change, as well as pests, diseases, and other threats to our agricultural productivity,” he said.

It will also serve as a repository of genetic resources, enabling the country to adapt to changing environmental conditions, develop resilient crops, and enhance food security for the future, Refalo said.

Director of the Plant Protection Directorate Dennis Sciberras explained that through the National Plant Gene Bank, varieties of trees, including fruit trees and vegetables, will be conserved.

This ensures that Maltese strains, especially those that have become scarce, are not only preserved but also better utilized for the benefit of Maltese farmers and consumers.

“This will ensure that the vegetables and fruit trees we are blessed with remain guaranteed for future generations,” he said.

For more information, one can send an email to [email protected] or call 22926535.

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